'Arduous search': Items found in hunt for missing family

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 17 Sep 2021, 9:08AM

'Arduous search': Items found in hunt for missing family

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 17 Sep 2021, 9:08AM

A number of items have been found in the search for a missing man and his three children last seen near a beach in Marokopa. 

Efforts to find Thomas Phillips, 34, and his three young children, Jayda Jin, 8, Maverick Callum-Phillips, 6, and Ember Phillips, 5, continue today in around Marokopa and Kiritehere Beach areas. 

The family were last seen in Marokopa on Saturday evening. 

Speaking to TVNZ's Breakfast programme this morning, Surf Life Saving's Allan Mundy revealed a number of items had been retrieved by search and rescue crew members. 

"At this stage, we've found some items, but we've passed those all on to police and it's up to them to decide whether it's of interest." 

Thomas Phillips and his children Jayda Phillips, Ember Phillips and Maverick Callam-Phillips. Photos / Pauline Sallet and Supplied

Thomas Phillips and his children Jayda Phillips, Ember Phillips and Maverick Callam-Phillips. Photos / Pauline Sallet and Supplied 

Mundy, the national search and rescue manager, did not say what the items were and acknowledged that they could not make any meaning of them. 

"What we're focused on is something that's different. Pretty much anything that's not sea life, we will collect, we'll mark and then we pass that up on the chain." 

Mundy said today's weather conditions were much better than other days this week; which would help search and rescue teams going out again today. 

More crew members are also due to join the effort. 

Inflatable rescue boats are going right up to cliff faces in the search and are swimming into caves to check absolutely everything and everywhere, he said. 

The Toyota Hilux ute owned by Thomas Phillips found on Kiritehere Beach near Marokopa. Photo / Supplied

The Toyota Hilux ute owned by Thomas Phillips found on Kiritehere Beach near Marokopa. Photo / Supplied 

"We're looking for anything - bottle-tops, cookie wrappers and right up to, hopefully, the family. 

"It's an arduous search. We cover a lot of area but really thoroughly." 

Mundy said teams were staying optimistic in the search and, despite the challenging conditions, were keeping their energy levels up. 

"We're going out every time to look and find them," he said. 

"We just have to focus on the good game - the Lotto win - which is to find the family and that's pretty much what we're doing."